H800 Using Cloudworks on the H800 course

Discussion of how Cloudworks might be used with H800 MAODE OU students

Cloud created by:

Gráinne Conole
25 November 2009

As part of the H800 course you will get a chance to explore and use the Cloudworks site. Use this space to discuss your impressions of the site and any ideas about how the site might be used to support H800 students generally. You might like to look at the L140 En Rumbo Spanish Cloudscape for example, which was used as a space to aggregte relevant resources for an intermediate level OU Spanish course.

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Ursula Rutherford
5:09pm 7 April 2010

I'm finding this all a bit mind-blowing. My hide-bound ideas are probably tripping me up as I'm wondering how it's possible to keep track of everything. Surely chaos results!

Julie Carle
5:57am 8 April 2010

Urusula you raise a very valid point about keeping in touch with all the different online spaces. Our H800 group discussion forums are established spaces where debate can occur without having to work in this new cloudworks space. Some people may feel 'safer' in this more restricted environment. Where I do see an advantage is as in the L140 En Rumbo Spanish cloudscape where participants are sharing resources and developing a community of participants beyond the confined life of an OU course.

John Mullen
4:39am 9 April 2010

I agree about chaos. I feel I've been thrown into a vortex and am just spinning around. No doubt familiarity will resolve this.

Antonella Esposito
9:46am 9 April 2010

As a former student enrolled in H807 and H809 courses, I can understand your early feelings here in Cloudworks. No doubt that moving from a defined group in a VLE to a network of practitioners in Cloudworks requires some time and adaptability. I agree with John that familiarity helps to overcome the initial feeling of 'chaos'. I also think Julie (my ex classmate :-)! ) is right when she underlines the value of Cloudworks 'beyond the confined life of an OU course'.

Actually for me this environment has become an integral part of my professional life as an elearning practitioner: even, 'living here' sometimes I succeeded to better understand some concepts that I had previously studied in the formal courses.

I think a change of attitude could also help: I moved from an objective-driven approach, that fits to a planned and outcome-based course to a serendipitous approach, more rewarding in a social network environment.

Good luck for your H800 course!

Gráinne Conole
8:50am 10 April 2010

Hi everyone

One of the key aspects of H800 is to give you exposure to some of the new technologies so that you can think critically about them and what their pros and cons are. I agee with you JUlie about the forum being a 'safe' closed space and that some people will naturally feel more comfortable there. You have now got to know each other and of course all share a common purpose in terms of doing H800. Cloudworks is totally open and hence that can feel frightening for some people, but of course brings with it the benefits of connecting to a worldwide community as Antonella says. So to my mind BOTH closed, tightly knit community based spaces like a forum and open spaces like cloudworks are important and valuable in different ways.

Marc Emlyn Humphries
6:34pm 11 April 2010

The emotions I am going through at the moment include, "Is it worth committing to this?"

As a teacher I am also being asked to develop my lessons on my personal QCA portfolio which has a learning design tool and at school we have been using Google Apps to share and collaborate. Both of these are closed environments although you do have control over this.

I am excited by cloudworks but, as I said not sure whether to commit to it.

Julie Carle
4:16am 14 April 2010 (Edited 5:14am 14 April 2010)

John, I found I became more comfortable with the new environment Cloudworks presents the more I “poked” around it so agree that familiarity should resolve this.

Antonella, really great to hear from you again! You were a flagship in H807! I am very impressed with how active and engaged you are throughout the site and in the debates and recently followed one of your threads to ‘Dave’s liveslides’. I shared this with my H800 tutor group as a completely different approach to Elluminate sessions. Unfortunately I don’t have as much time to serendipitously explore all the wonderful resources we are learning about in H800 as much as I would like.

Gráinne, I wonder if as students, we perhaps feel less confident or without the professional authority to contribute in these spaces. Also what is the impact of the public footprint we leave behind in Cloudworks - perhaps this is of some concern.

The important point Marc raises – exactly what commitment is required – and if we become committed (addicted) what will be the impact on our studies? Will these cloudspace contributions be considered an extension of our forum for assignment purposes?

Gráinne Conole
6:20am 15 April 2010

Glad that you are getting used to the space Julie. I think it is an inevitable (if initially uncomfortable) reality of these new web 2.0 spaces that they appear a little overwhelming to begin with. Precisely because they have so much to offer and there are so many diffferent ways in which they can be used. Each of us has to appropriate them to the ways in which we like to work and this of course again takes time. With cloudworks there are lots of ways you can customise the space:

  • you can set up email alerts,
  • 'follow' people or clouds,
  • set up your own personalised cloudscape and populate it with things you are interested in
  • once you have a reputation of 1 you can 'favourite' clouds and cloudscapes and they will appear on your profile page
  • you can take RSS feeds from clouds or cloudscapes
  • you can monitor lates activity via the site cloudstream on the home page or individual cloudstreams on cloudscape or people's profiles
  • or of course you can simple browse the listing of clouds, cloudscapes or people or enter a search term

So many ways to get around! So much choice! But of course that is deliberate - we want people to be able to use the space in a way that suits them and all of us have different approaches to doing this - hence the choice...

Carolyn Edwards
8:16pm 19 April 2010

I think Julie has a very insightful point about being not only monitored but assessed in the forums, but I would take a slightly different angle - it IS a bit scarily personal to feel that your participatoriness (is that a word?), sociability, clarity of expression, cleverness or lack thereof is being subjected to scrutiny and then given a mark!  I think this should be an area where we don't have to worry about that and just pursue our own interests.  

One of the great things about the group is learning about other people's fields and how they often have very different issues and concerns ( and having to think about how to explain your own) but finding others who share yours has to be a complementary benefit.  

I'm one of these sad teachers who wants to innovate and use technology but doesn't have any idea how to go about it beyond taking this course, so Cloudworks should be absolutely the place for me.  When H800 stops and I have a bit of time, I look forward to exploring it further!!!

Susannah Silver
9:22pm 24 April 2010

Thank you Grainne for the clear guidance on ways of making Cloudworks work for us. I am wandering around the clouds at the moment and find that I follow a link and forgot what I came here for - early Alzheimers? Anyway I'm finding that with each that goes by, I can understand a little more of how people talk to each other in academic online fora and am finding clouds that are relevant to me. Your point at your IET coffee morning this week was very helpful - being confident in one's online  online identity (writing style and approach) is important for joining in.

One observation about the interface - I understand that this is a content management system and it's working through compiling lists. The concept of clouds is so rich and vivid - I would love to see a concept-mapping visualisation of the cloudscapes which ideally would be mapped on the fly as  new clouds are generated. The visualisation would be a portal in i.e. click on a cloud and go in. I would love an overview of how the cloudscapes are connected rather than having to trawl a list however I note that there are 2000+ clouds so this is a tall order. I'm a visual person so I love a diagram. And of course it wouldn't be accessible I suppose but it could be an alternative way of searching.

Gráinne Conole
11:49am 25 April 2010

Hi Susannah! Glad you are finding it interesting! I totally agree with you a visual version of cloudworks would be fantastic! I've had tenative discussions with Simon Buckingham-Shum about how cloudworks and cohere might work together. Cohere is a tool for visualising and making connections between ideas. I'll add a link. One thing to say cloudworks is not a content management system - it doesnt host documents or files, instead it tries to harness the best of web 2.0 practices for use in an educational context.

Susannah Silver
6:10am 27 April 2010

Thanks Grainne for responding to me. I found Cohere  and think I need to try it out on an actual topic to understand it. In my imagination, I could see the Cloudstreams like tag clouds or the airiness of the concept ovals in Freemind. Inspired by this, I've just made a word cloud with the wordle app. www.wordle.com which has the feeling of it.

Thanks also for prompting me to go a bit further into web 2.0 and  terminology - I thought that content management was independent of where the data was sited - server side or client side. You prompted me to ask the question : where will this response be stored - because if I post it now, it will be retrieved next time this cloud is requested? So it must be on a server somewhere being stored in a database .. somewhere.

I'm now on a quest to answer these questions and find out about more about what's under the bonnet.

Marie Arndt
8:41pm 1 May 2010

I am learning all the time on this and the other modules I'm doing, and I have dipped into Cloudworks before, but little time to meander too much now. I still find it a little confusing wsith all these diffdernt spaces in Cloudworks, but it is a great opportunity to encounter individuals from all over the place, by taking part in discussions. I think it will be some time before I can get a firm grasp on this, but I will do my best. I'll see you under the bonnet Susannah.

Gráinne Conole
5:57am 2 May 2010

Hi Marie I think that is an issue with all these web 2.0 technologies - there is just so much out there! I think the trick is NOT to try and take it all in at once, dip in now and then, take part in things that interest you. If you make one or two good connections or find one or two interesting things then it will have been worth while! One thing to mention you can 'filter' what you see in cloudworks in a number of ways. There are RSS feeds for cloudscapes and people, if you follow people their activities will appear in your cloudstream (you can see this from the red button with your name on it on the homepage, once you have a reputation of 1 you can favourite things and they will appear on your profile page, also you can set up your own cloudscape and add any clouds that interest you to it, kind of like a personal bookmark.Finally you can set up different levels of email alerts. Hope this helps! Good luck with exploring the clouds and with your studies.

Marie Arndt
8:30am 2 May 2010

Dear Grainne,

Thank you so much for your encouraging and supportive response. I am determined to get to grips with it all eventually. I know that I have developed my thinking a lot concening e-learning since I started the modules, as was really broiught home to me when I attended the JISC conference a couple of weeks ago. My aim is to erventually take my new-found skills to develop e-learning material for English literature, and maybe put to commercial use. Any thoughts on that would be appreciated.



Khorshed Bhote
2:54pm 4 July 2010

I love cloudworks and really want to engage with it once the H800 is over.  At the moment my interest in H800 is waning fast.  I have reached a point when I just want to get on and try out some of the tools.  As I am a teacher educator I am looking forward to introducing my trainee teachers to cloudworks.

Gráinne Conole
9:05pm 4 July 2010

Hi so glad you love cloudworks!!! would love to hear how you get on with it post the course and how you use it. Any ideas for how we can approve it welcome! Out vision is that it acts as a space for educators to share and discuss learning and teaching ideas. The focus is on fun and serendipity. 

Khorshed Bhote
10:04am 10 July 2010

I am definitley interested in integrating clougworks on our moodle site for our trainee teachers.  Is there any protocol or should I just ask them to go ahead and register?  In other words, do they have to request joining?

Also, I would like to keep them as a group together to stat off with.  Any suggestions on how this can be done? 

Maria Tannant
8:59am 27 March 2011

Whow! I love cloudworks and look forward to using it in the future. Already from just browsing around I can see this as being a potential base for networking, researching and finding out what's going on out there in the elearning world. I expect we shall have to use these free resources more now that funding is so tight and everyone is counting every penny.

But, I have to agree with Carolyn and her reference to the cleverness bit - subject to scrunity and marked.

deirdre robson
6:37pm 2 April 2011


What does it mean to have a reputation of 1?  I'm puzzled by this reference, which you make several times. Also, what does it mean to 'favourite' things.  I ask as someone who has just been asked to engage with Cloudworks for the first time for H800, and am finding it somewhat overwhelming - though I've got a feeling that there's an awful lot of potentially interesting matter there, if I just have time to find it.

Theodora Christodoulou
7:10pm 2 April 2011

Thank you Deirdre for asking about reputation. I am also new in Cloudworks (for H800 as well) and i have exactly the same question :-)

Gráinne Conole
8:16am 3 April 2011

Hi Deidre and Theodora welcome to the clouds! :-)

If someone favourites a cloud or cloudscape you have created that increases your 'reputation' by 1. Also that cloud or cloudscape will then appear in your favourite list. This can be found on your profile page (click on your name to get to this). So acts as a kind of bookmarking but also shows others what you are interested in. 

Don't worry about feeling overwhelmed that's natural! Hopefully the cloudquest challenge will help! Hope you enjoy exploring the space!

Eileen Frampton
11:35am 8 April 2011 (Edited 11:35am 8 April 2011)

Hi Theodora

Glad to see someone else from my tutor group of H800! 

This is the first posting I have made for some time as Ihave been on holiday and am trying to catch up!  Hence for the past week I have done lots of 'lurking'!  I must admit I feel like I am 'drowning' in Cloudworks at present but am comforted by Grainne's advice that I will over time start to enjoy using it.

paul jonathan smithers
11:29am 10 April 2011

I like cloudworks, what will really get me going is plenty of opportunity to use it. It is one of those 'breakthrough' moments where a particular piece of technology acts as the door opener to other possibilities. This combined with CompendiumLD is going to change the way I plan and deliver learning for my students.

Gráinne Conole
10:43am 14 April 2011

Great to hear Paul! The aim of visualisation tools like CompendiumLD is to try and get practitioners to think more creatively when designing learning interventions, to think beyond content and tools to what the learners will be doing and the intended learning outcomes.

Gráinne Conole
10:45am 14 April 2011

H Khorshed

great to hear you are thinking of integrating Cloudworks with Moodle that would be fantastic! Look forward to hearing how you get on!

Eileen Mansfield
8:41am 14 June 2011

Hi everyone,

I have been enjoying the discussions here and have learned a lot. I like Cloudworks and can see it's advantages in my teaching work but one disadvantage is that there is no way to export the discussions as you can in Moodle. You can of course simply highlight the whole of the discussion, but if you want to copy just some of them (e.g. Granine's useful handy hints) it takes you ages as you have to highlight them separately and copy and paste them into Word etc.

Regards, Eileen

Keely Laycock
4:06pm 30 March 2012

Hi all,

I'm new to the discussion and to cloudworks and can see the potential but most of what I've looked at so far is focussed on higher education/OU and there seems little sharing of resources for example for secondary school teachers. I suppose teachers need to be aware that cloudworks exists and have the time to contribute. I am finding that there are so many new tools in H800 that I'm looking forward to having the time to apply them in my work when I finsih the course. Mind you, I said this about H808 and never seemed to have the time to go back!


Gráinne Conole
9:57am 7 April 2012

Hi Keely yes guess there are a lot of HE folk in here - would be great to extend this to the school sector - spread the word! :-)

Owen Barritt
7:31pm 11 April 2012

Just about getting passed the feeling of being lost in the clouds now and can see there's quite a lot of ideas on here that could be useful, the only problem is finding them.

I'm not working in a main stream subject (wine tasting), so it's not really obvious what to search for to find ideas unless I have some idea of what it is I'm looking for to start with.  In using the search quite a bit for lots of general topics yesterday (everything from "mindmaps" to "geography"), although there's a lot of useful clouds, there are a lot of fairly empty ones too and the search results don't give you anyway of distinguishing them without opening them (some indication of content like we've got with the number of comments displayed in the links on the cloudscape pages or a breaf teaser to give some idea of what's in each, would make searching so much easier).

Although I like the idea of the site, as I work in the private sector and the bits of training I develop are essentially products of the organisation I work for and owned by them, I'm not entirely sure how much I can feasibly share on here.

Shaun Lowry
10:37am 9 May 2012

I agree with Khorshed's comment, namely that the feeling I have on H800 is that as a result of being introduced to a number of outstanding tools, I just want to get on and use them.  It is very difficult to remain focused on the module as each discovery, Cloudworks being one of them, results in hours of meandering and, like Susannah, I follow a link and then another and forget why I am actually here, which is (at least for the time being) one more step on H800.

This really stresses two things:

1) you must be focused to work through H800.

2) Grainne's comment which lists the ways in which the space can be customised, are perhaps the best way to go, as at least you can find some clouds and cloudscapes of interest and effectively bookmark them for later perusal when there is more time, receiving updates etc via RSS feeds.  Let the site do the work for you and avoid the meanderings! 

Gráinne Conole
8:42am 11 May 2012

Hi Shaun good oomments - there is so much out there now it can be overwhelming but the power of serendipity is huge! Be focused and do what works best for you and let go in terms of not having to do everything! Hope you are enjoying H800!



Brendan Clarke
9:18pm 6 April 2015

Just starting block 2 and submitted my claiim for a cloudquester badge- nice name btw.  I like the cloud and the cloudscapes as organising concepts.  I like the way we use tags as networking links so the clouds move to differen spaces and places.  I use Trello at the moment as a collaborative space, handy and listy and easy to use, and as a mac user i use MindNode and i do find that helpful.  I'll be adding this to the list I use and see how i go.  i do like the open collaboration and the sharing and the idea of serendipity in learning on the web is dead right- tnc- B

Jeni Parker
2:42pm 12 April 2015

Like Brendan just starting Block 2.

I am on a tight timeschedule and could easily spend too long in here so done my list and logged it for a return.



Munir Moosa Sewani
10:43am 3 April 2017

It is a good application but I wonder why this forum is no more interactive

Munir Moosa Sewani
10:46am 3 April 2017



This link as suggested is not working too :(


Mr Mark T Allenby
3:03pm 31 March 2018

You can see the use people make of this. There is a little burst of attention around March and April as each group is directed to it, but not a lot of a sense of really building up an on-going community. I suspect that there isn't enough critical mass and interactivity at the moment for this tool to produce the results it is capable of. 

David Hayden
6:20am 3 April 2018

I wonder about the comments about the sense of community - which community do people want to be a part of - the one that we have spent the last 10 weeks getting used to - or being directed (to some degree to this....)

Frances Maynard
4:37pm 4 April 2018

Hello I have found this an interesting resource but lilke others question why the comments section is mainly used in March/April time ;-).  I would love to create a Cloud but feel very time poor so have to come back to it.  I havebeenparticulalrly thinking about using Twitter as a communication medium - how to break down barriers etc.  I'll come back to this no doubt.


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